Notgeld Categories, Vol. 3: Circulating Notes, Large Denomination / Großnotgeld, 1918 - 1921

This is the third in a series of seven posts where we will describe each primary category of notgeld, provide some historical context, share some examples, and provide some tips on how to identify and differentiate one category from another.

Circulating Notes, Large Denomination / Großnotgeld, 1918 - 1921

This category of notgeld is very similar to the previous one (Verkehrsausgaben), but these Großnotgeld were issued for a shorter period of time and were both larger in size and featured larger denominations (generally 1 Mk to 100 Mk).

The introduction of the Papiermark, which became the official German currency at the start of WWI when the Goldmark was no longer backed by gold due to the gold standard being abandoned, had initially triggered the hoarding of the higher denomination silver and gold coins. As the value of the Papiermark began to depreciate rapidly towards the end of the war, there was a new shortage of large denomination money, leading to the creation of Großnotgeld.

Due to the fact that Großnotgeld were originally intended for circulation, they are often found with cancellation marks. These can take a variety of forms including hole punched, stamped or handwritten “ungültig”, crossed out by ink pen, ripped, cut corners and more.

Another important thing to be aware of when collecting Großnotgeld is that many notes were reprinted at a later date, using the same original printing plates, and it can often be very difficult to distinguish an original print from a reprint.

The original prints tend to be more scarce, valuable and desirable than the reprints. A good catalog will provide detailed descriptions and illustrations for the collector to more easily identify and help differentiate these print variations. The standard catalog for collecting these notes is Das deutsche Großnotgeld, 1918 - 1921 by Anton Geiger.

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